Although the chainsaw seems to have been given a rest and there wasn't quite as much blood as previous episodes, Episode 3 of Ash vs. Evil Dead, 'Books From Beyond,' didn't shy away from some boomstick action. To be fair, we probably needed a slightly slower episode after the action-packed openers and 'Books From Beyond'—though perhaps the weakest episode so far—did at least provide some backstory to the Necronomicon, as well show what it's capable of.
Of course, just because there wasn't a single decapitation (quite the surprise following the first two episodes), that doesn't mean 'Books From Beyond' didn't have some groovy moments. Here are five of them:
Everybody Dies (Irae)
The first groovy moment is, conveniently, the very first moment of the episode. Whereas Ash seems content to cruise around Michigan listening to Deep Purple, it seems the still enigmatic Ruby prefers something a little bit more foreboding. 'Books From Beyond' opens with Verdi's arrangement of 'Requiem: Dies Irae'—certainly one of the more banging classical tunes.
Furthermore, the song isn't without relevance to the plot. 'Dies Irae,' or as translated in Latin, 'Day of Wrath,' is a 13th century Catholic poem which talks of the final judgement as the last trumpet is sounded, summoning souls before God. Check out some lines from the original poem below:
The day of wrath, that day
Will dissolve the world in ashes
As foretold by David and the Sibyl!
How much tremor there will be,
when the Judge will come,
investigating everything strictly!
Death and nature will marvel,
when the creature arises,
to respond to the Judge.
Considering Ash has just unleashed the forces of Hell upon the Earth, it seems rather apt, doesn't it?
Haven't I Seen That Somewhere Before?
If the music wasn't a give away, it seems Ruby operates slightly differently from Ash. Her introductory scene (barring that small moment in Episode 1) also acts to tell us quite a bit about this mysterious character.
For one thing she seems to know all about the Deadites and is well-versed in dispatching them. Most telling of all, she appears to wield the a Kandarian Dagger. This grotesque weapon appeared in both The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II, and was found by Professor Knowby along with the Necronomicon in his original archeological dig. We don't know much about its origin, except that it it appears to kill Deadites without needing to dismember them, which is certainly handy.
Where did Ruby get it from? Well, a look at the IMDb page for Ash vs. Evil Dead is quite revealing. The character played by Lucy Lawless is 'Ruby Knowby,' suggesting she is related to the professor of the movies. This also means she is likely the sister of Annie, who met her demise in Evil Dead II. Will Ruby hold Ash responsible for her death? I guess we'll have to wait for these two Deadite-slaying veterans to meet up to find out.
And The Winner Of Best Bruce Campbell Line Goes To...
Considering this episode was more of a slow-burner than a chainsaw revving extravaganza, it's not surprising that we got a few jokes that weren't so dependent on Evil Dead's brand of physical humor.
There are a few contenders for the position of best joke of the show, with the "Churros" joke likely having its supporters. However, for me it had to be the "Viking helmet" line. Not only was it rather humorous, but it also gave us a slice of Ash's life outside of slaying demons. If you need your memory jogging here is the line again:
"First time I came here, I was looking for an authentic Viking helmet. I was banging this freaky chick who got me way into roleplay..."
The fact Ash clearly insisted on having an authentic Viking helmet is the kind of attention to historical detail I can get behind.
Getting Inside Ash's Head
For the most part, the fight scene with the newly recently summoned demon was perhaps the weakest one of the series so far. Regardless, you can't blame the Ash vs. Evil Dead team for wanting to provide something other than another Deadite decapitation moment, and if anything, this episode should be rewarded for changing up the pace and tone a bit.
Showing a psycho-kinetically powerful bad guy is always tricky, as their attacks rely less on exciting fight choreography and more on actors pretending their brains are being pulled apart - often with mixed results. Luckily, Ash vs. Evil Dead decided to throw some money into the CGI department as they actually showed, Fight Club-style, Ash's mind being slowly destroyed by the demon.
A Pane-ful Death
It seems Ash vs. Evil Dead needs at least one grisly death per episode, with this week's being provided courtesy of the recently introduced Lionel Hawkins.
Poor ol' Lionel was teased over the first three episodes of the season, so it was disappointing to see him rather quickly killed off, especially when he seemed to have all the secrets to the Evil. However, in his killing we did at least learn one thing.
The final scene from 'Books From Beyond,' shows a newly undead Lionel emerging and moving towards the trapped Fischer. As well as providing a suitably horrifying end to the episode, it also goes a little further in explaining how someone becomes a Deadite. Far from being touched/bitten by a Deadite, it seems you merely have to be dead for your body to be possessed. For example, Kelly's mother presumably died prior to Ash awakening the Evil, but she still returns as a Deadite. Meanwhile, Lionel, who made no physical contact with the demon, also became a Deadite. Basically, it seems Ash vs. Evil Dead adheres to The Walking Dead school of zombie resurrection. This always seemed the case, but Lionel's death partly confirms this.
What Played Us Out This Week?
Once again, Ash vs. Evil Dead was played out with a piece of quasi-rock from yesteryear that perfectly sums up the tone of the show. This week we were treated to The Stooges', 'Loose.' I've just added it, along with 'Dies Irae,' to the Ash vs. Evil Dead Spotify playlist I've been developing over the last week weeks. Give it a listen, and maybe a follow, below: